Okay, yes, I disappeared for another week. But I have an excuse. A really damn good excuse. An outrageously decadent, completely indulgent, fussy-fussy fancy-fancy excuse. An I-stayed-up-until-one-in-the-morning-on-a-Thursday-night-up-to-my-elbows-in-butter excuse.
I made you a tart. But I eated it.
Guys, I’ve run out of steam today. It’s a Monday. I didn’t sleep enough last night, I had a nasty encounter at work with a Blue Screen of Death, and Netflix has decided it doesn’t like my roommate’s Wii anymore. First World problems. Grump grump grump.
And, oh, one other thing. Considering that my last post was all mad-sciencey and eco-friendly and fabulously delicious (I’m still snacking on kimchi straight out of the jar), I’ve been really afraid to follow it up with a letdown. So what did I do this weekend? I went to the store, bought some ingredients that I thought looked good, came home…and made a sauce I’ve already blogged about. Whoop de freaking doo.
But before you click the little red X in the corner and make me and all my Monday problems disappear from your life, check out the real reason I decided to do a redux of a recipe that hadn’t quite worked the first time.
Full disclosure: I’m sitting in a hotel room right now, on day one of a whirlwind business trip, and I’ve had a very long day and I’m just a little loopy. This post may be slightly more, um, idiosyncratic than usual. You’ve been warned.
On to the good stuff. After
two three weeks (whoops!) of waiting, I can finally tell you about the Thing that I made (wait for it…) three weeks ago. In the wake of the Great Salsa Verde Fiasco of March 2011, this has now restored my faith that I am, in fact, kind of a badass. Give me a head of cabbage, some chili paste and a whole lotta salt, and I will do science to it.
That’s right. I made kimchi. And it’s awesome.
This was supposed to be a St. Patrick’s Day post. I was all jazzed to write about, y’know, green food. I went to the store, and there were these adorable little tomatillos, nestled cheekily in their wrinkly skins. I wanted so badly to turn them into a gorgeous salsa verde, all hot and sharp and bright jewel-green. But then I tried, and somewhere along the line things went wrong, and the salsa turned out mouth-searingly spicy and sour and…beige. I don’t really want to talk about it.
So instead, let us turn our attention to another holiday entirely, and a much more pleasant and comforting subject: pie. Or pi, as it were.
So let’s get this out of the way, right here, right now. This is a post about chili. But not the old-school kind of chili. Not the kind of chili you put on a chili dog. Not the kind of chili that, when I was in college, I used to slop over fries and drench with nacho sauce and call it dinner. (I am shamed.) Oh, no, this is not your generic tomato-red, capsaicin-swimming, orange-grease-slicked Amurrican chili. If I ever enter this chili in a cookoff, they’ll almost certainly ride me out of town on a rail.
There are about a million and one traditional chili recipes out there in the ether, all more or less the same. What I’m after is none of them. I want chili that demands nothing but a bowl and a spoon and a sprinkle of cheese, that fills to the ribs without coalescing into a belly-brick. I want incongruous meats and funky textures, toothsome chunks of vegetation, beans of all different sizes. And I want something so far beyond the pale that it hardly qualifies as chili at all. My signature chili is absolutely killer, but it’s also miles away from tradition. It’s almost–dare I say it–un-American.
So here’s the proof. I’m done. Haul me away and lock me up. I surrender.
But wait, you say. Isn’t this a blog about, like, making food that doesn’t kill you? And didn’t you just post about birthday cake not too long ago? And didn’t said cake involve a veritable orgy of butter and eggs? Why, yes. Yes, I say.
So what’s my excuse? Well, it was my mother’s birthday on Saturday. (Happy birthday, Mom!) So of course I had to make a cake. You wouldn’t begrudge my sweet, lovable mama a homemade cake on her birthday, would you? Huh? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
And besides, this cake is even healthy. Kind of.
Potato chips. Potaaaaaaaaato chips. Potato. Chips. I bet you’re craving them right now.
As far as I’m concerned, the salted deep-fried potato slice is the best evidence we have that evil forces exist in this world. Only a truly diabolical being could have invented something so ludicrously addictive. And they’ve hooked me. I’m a goner. When I’m plunked on the couch, with something inane on the teevee, all I want is a salty crunch traveling in a constant stream from lap to mouth.
But then come the consequences. The raving, gnawing salt-and-starch craving, roaring for more and more and more. Then the crash, the descending gray fog, the heavy eyelids, the sudden and overwhelming need to sink my bloated carcass into the couch cushions and sleep for an eternity. And, eventually, the circumference of my lower half, pushing wider and wider against the waistband of my jeans.
Clearly, something better is in order–something salty, crunchy, compulsion-forming, that won’t send my poor overworked pancreas into screaming fits. And, once again, it’s Mark Bittman to the rescue.